Conference highlights shared challenges of military forces and NHS during pandemic

Conference highlights shared challenges of military forces and NHS during pandemic 

A leadership conference for NHS and military forces with a special focus on mental health and well-being brought about by the pandemic, took place earlier this month at the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus.

The Defence Medical Leadership Conference united NHS and military leaders for the first in-person medical military conference since the pandemic began.

Attended by over 80 people with representatives from NHS and members of the medical services from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.

Collectively, the military personnel form part of the Defence Medical Services whose aim is to promote, protect and restore the health of the UK’s Armed Forces.

Much of the conference focused on leadership challenges shared by the military medical services and NHS in the midst of the pandemic, as well as staff recovery and resilience.

NHS speakers shared their experience of operating during the pandemic and how they were managing the readjustment from crisis mode.  Military representatives discussed a range of new Defence Medical Leadership initiatives, including a part-time leadership development programme, national leadership network and mentoring programme.

Colonel (Honorary) Dr Ian Corrie from the University of Cumbria and Brigadier Archer presented findings from their novel pilot leadership programme, ‘Serve to Lead’ based on Dr Corrie’s 'Transformative Learning Theory' research.

Professor Di Lamb, Defence Professor of Nursing, and author of ‘Caring for the carers: a COVID-19 psychological support programme’, shared her work supporting military staff and NHS organisations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking about the event, Colonel (Honorary) Dr Ian Corrie from the University of Cumbria said:

“This conference successfully brought together the military and NHS to share their experiences of leadership and mental health and wellbeing issues experienced during COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It was the first one we’ve been able to have in-person for several years due to the pandemic and so it was fantastic to be able to share learning from this incredible period with colleagues across organisations”   

Dr Ian Corrie, Principal lecturer at the University of Cumbria was made an honorary colonel with the 355 Medical Evacuation Regiment, three years ago in recognition of his leadership and coaching skills.

Over a five-year period, the honorary role will see Ian tasked with promoting the regiment and the role of reservists and supporting the regimental system that is the core of the British Army.

The conference also cements the university’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant to support the armed forces community and ensure that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

The conference took place on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 September.